Indian Summer News: The Latest At Real Old Paper

Greetings, Friends! Believe it or not, it’s coming up on two years since we opened our little gallery in North Beach. As we begin the swing into Indian Summer, we thought it would be a good time to bring everyone up to date on the latest doings here at Real Old Paper.
The 'Lemon Lady', a favorite recent gallery acquisition by François Geo. | Photo: Joe Bonadio
First off, we’ve got an event coming up, and it’s sponsored by the fine people at San Francisco Art Institute. The title of the exhibit is 'de-contextualize', which has to do with the effect of removing elements from their normal context to reveal different levels of meaning and expression. Or something like that. I do know it’s going to be a great event, and it’s going off from 6-9 pm tomorrow, September 14th. See you there!
These panels depict life in 19th Century Naples, and are 180+ years old. | Photo: Joe Bonadio
We’ve also got some very cool new acquisitions to show off. First off, we’ve ferreted out a completely unique piece, one that you can fit in the palm of your hand: a collection of twenty-five lithographs, each delicately hand-colored, depicting inhabitants of Naples from the early 1830s.
The pigments on these works remain vivid after nearly two centuries. | Photo: Joe Bonadio
The renderings are bound into a leather book, likely to have been a portfolio of sorts that the artist used to show his work (as opposed to serving a formal advertising purpose). The book is the only one like it that we’ve ever owned, or even seen for that matter. We’ve run across other work by this artist, but never in this size, and this book may be the only one of its kind for sale in the world.
The lithographs represent the people one might encounter during a typical day in the Naples of that era: the vendor selling melon, the woman that changes your coins, the one that helps you with your bags. To keep things realistic, there is even a bandit in the mix–to relieve you of a few of those coins, presumably.
Another precious acquisition: La Dame aux Camélias, the classic poster of Sarah Bernhardt by Alphonse Mucha. | Photo: Joe Bonadio
On an entirely different scale, the gallery has made another sweet acquisition: Mucha’s long-celebrated La Dame aux Camélias, dated 1896. The grand six-foot-tall poster depicts Sarah Bernhardt playing the role of Camélia, a courtesan who, facing death, must release her lover from his promise of marriage.
The original story was written by Alexandre Dumas, and Bernhardt, the premiere actress of her time, considered La Dame to be her signature role; she reportedly performed the piece more than a thousand times. Mucha’s elegant composition captures the tragedy’s depth of sorrow perfectly. Bernhardt’s stricken character gathers her scarf wearily about her neck, backgrounded by a field of silver stars, a white Camelia in her auburn hair. The poster was one of the actress’ favorites; come by the gallery, and you can see why.
Another favorite in the gallery is this classic Bénédictine poster by Leonetto Cappiello. | Photo: Joe Bonadio
It has been a very busy month in the gallery, and as the air continues to warm and the fog begins to clear, we’re looking forward to an even busier Fall. We’ll be back here soon with more news, including more cool events, and lots of beautiful new posters to check out. The lineup in the gallery changes constantly, so make sure to come by often to see what’s hanging.
And remember to follow our instagram feed: Cheers!

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